Skip to main content

The Christmas Gift

I read the story over lunch a few days before Christmas, and laughed out loud alone in my kitchen, as it brought to colourful life in my imagination, the hilarious scenario played out on the page in black on white.

A day or so later, I was talking to my son, and I said, "Pete, I have a gift I'd love from you this Christmas."

"Oh?" he said, surprised, I suppose, at my unusual boldness in asking. "What is it?"

"It's a story," I said, "And the gift would be that you would read it for me and the rest of the family, when we all get together for Christmas." 

He agreed. asking only if he might get the story ahead of time to practice.

In the end, with all of the busyness before Christmas, he never did pick up the story to ahead of time, but on Boxing Day, when we all assembled to celebrate what was for some family members, "Christmas Version # 3," the bright-yellow-covered book with its coffee-stained pages was near at hand.

The house was fragrant with the aromas of Christmas dinner: roasting turkey, with a stuffing of bread, celery, onion and sage--and colourful winter vegetables: carrots, turnips and Brussels sprouts. The feast was waiting, with equally delicious options for the vegan members of the family.

But first all eyes were on the coffee table, piled with gifts wrapped lovingly into the night, in brightly covered tissue, with sparkly bows and decorations.

We did try to open the gifts one-by-one, slowly, so that each could be admired and acknowledged, but like a train leaving a station, the gifting, opening and thanking gathered speed--fed by a seemingly unstoppable force, until the flurry of flying paper, exclamations and laughter reached a sort of grand Christmas crescendo!

The careful wrappings of just moments ago were being gathered into clear plastic garbage bags, when I announced, "I have asked for a gift from Pete." 

I had everyone's attention, so I continued, "The gift is a story I have asked him to read out loud. Your part in the gift would be to listen to it with me. But I'm not sure when would be a good time."

"How about after we finish our meal?" suggested someone, and to general assent, the tidying resumed.

The meal was everything I had hoped it would be and it seemed to be enjoyed to the full. No one had room for another bite. It was time for the gift I had been looking forward to for days.

Pete was sitting beside me at the head of two long tables that had been pushed together so that all 13 of us could sit together for the meal. I handed him my book, open to the story I wanted him to read.

Our youngest grandson, Josh, left the table to work on his new Lego project, promising he'd be listening, and Pete began to read.

The story captured everyone within its first few lines. Josh returned to his seat, his eyes dancing with humour as they locked on his dad's in rapt attention. Pete's deep voice broke with laughter at several points and I looked down the table at the faces of our family laughing out loud with him, not an ear-bud in sight, and I received my gift--my very precious gift: a moment of shared laughter; a Christmas memory made; a gift honoured by all.

And my heart breathed, "Thank you."

Comments

Brenda Burston said…
It was a very special moment in a day that was a gift to all of us!

Love you!
Belinda Burston said…
Thank you Sweetheart! I loved every minute. :)

Popular posts from this blog

The Most I've Ever Paid for Something I Didn't Want

We were young, that’s my excuse. I was 23 and Paul 26, but already we had done a lot of living in our time together--more than most youngsters of today would have done by then.
We had been married for almost four years, had immigrated to a new country, over 6,000 km away from home and were parents to a 3 and 1-year-old. We owned our own house--or at least two mortgages on the house and had settled down, or so I thought. Paul and I were barely scraping by, but we were making it on one salary, while I stayed home to care for our children.
It is at such times; I have come to understand, now that I am much older, that we should prepare for an adventure, for one is surely coming. 
Paul had a long drive to work, down a highway known for danger in the winter. He felt that we should explore moving closer to his place of work. I was happy in our home--had overcome two years of homesickness and loved our little village in the country. I was not in favour of the proposed move, but I did believe th…

Head Walker to Heart Warrior Part 2

One recent Saturday, I drove to St. Mary's to celebrate the Heritage Day festivities with my daughter. By then I was well into another journey, the search for a peaceful heart.

I had started the two and a half hour drive, early, choosing a route that avoided highways and had just driven through Beeton when the crossing lights up ahead signalled that a train was coming. I slowed to a stop and watched the hypnotic stream of boxcars, a seemingly endless graffiti gallery, gently swaying by on their way. A random surprise art exhibit.
As I drove through the village of Hockley, listening to CBC Radio, the bluesy voice of Canadian jazz artist, Laila Biali kept me company and set me bopping in my seat with her song, Queen of Hearts.  
Along one of the back roads after leaving the town of Orangeville, a big white tent stood in a field with a sign at the gate saying, "Gospel Meeting. All Welcome." The word "gospel," comes from an old English word with two parts: God (go…

Boundaries and Bonds

Almost three years ago, on the first Sunday of my "retired life," I left the church after morning service giddy with newfound freedom. Instead of turning left, from the church driveway, to go straight home, as usual, I decided to turn right, drive to the nearby village and visit my mother-in-law, whom I love.

I found her in her backyard, sitting on a garden swing, beneath a canopy that shaded her from the August sun. She loves to be out in the fresh air and loves to garden. Undeterred by the fact that her knees hurt and her leg may "give way" at any moment, she will strategize as though planning a complex military operation, and somehow accomplish the goal she has in mind. In between these manoeuvres, she will stop until she regains energy for the next onslaught.

That afternoon, we sat for a couple of pleasant hours in the sun. Around us, insects buzzed, birds sang, the breeze played with our hair as the canvas canopy over our heads flapped--and we talked--and talked…